Federal Policy Update: NCLB Waivers & ELT in Obama Budget

This is a guest post by David Goldberg, NCTL's Director of Federal Policy and National Partnerships.  

Recently, expanded learning time has been a high profile topic here in Washington, D.C. Among other things, expanded learning time has featured prominently in the Obama Administration’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) waivers and is woven throughout their budget. As we work with states and districts around the country on their plans to expand learning time, these signals of strong support from the federal government are critical.
States Awarded NCLB Waivers
Last Thursday, President Obama announced the first ten states that will receive waivers from some of the requirements of the NCLB, giving them more flexibility to implement new accountability approaches, teacher and leader quality reforms, and school improvement strategies. The waivers gives states and communities new opportunities use high-quality expanded learning time (ELT) school designs to improve high-poverty, low-performing schools.  
The Obama Administration made high-quality ELT schools an important part of the waiver plan. ELT is woven throughout the guidance given to states for developing their proposals, and expanded-time schools are specifically included as a whole-school alternative in places where federal funds had previously been restricted to other uses.
We are very pleased that states have seized on this landmark opportunity to use high-quality ELT to raise student achievement and close the achievement gap. NCTL has been working with the Administration and several of the waiver states on policies to support ELT, and we look forward to partnering with the states and districts on high-quality ELT implementation going forward, as well as working with states that are still in the waiver application process.
President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget
On Monday, President Obama released his FY 2013 budget. The budget reaffirms the President and Secretary Duncan’s deep commitment to expanded learning time. The budget includes ELT by creating flexibility for states, districts, and communities to choose ELT within the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program and when choosing an intervention to turnaround their lowest performing schools.  
It’s particularly important that the President’s budget also spares the CCLC program from cuts by proposing to maintain the current funding level of $1.15 billion. Under the President’s budget proposal, local education leaders in states that have not received a waiver would also get the flexibility to choose the strategy that best meets the needs of their students -- an expansion of the school day, week, or year; after-school programming; or a combination of both. For more on the President’s budget, please click here to read a statement by NCTL’s President Jennifer Davis.